Night by Elie Wiesel Term Paper

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Night by Elie Wiesel was first published in English in 1960 and gave the most chilling and most faithful account of his experiences during the Holocaust. We have heard a lot about concentration camps and how Jews were made to suffer simply because of their religion, however this book gives us something deeper to think about. The book studies the Holocaust experience in the light of Jewish beliefs and the author narrates the gradual loss of his faith in God. The novel begins with a normal description of life in Elie Wiesel's house. This is done to show how devout a Jew he was and how firmly he believed in God before all was taken away by the Holocaust. "I believe profoundly. During the day I studied the Talmud, and at night I run to the synagogue to weep over the destruction of the Temple." (p.13) He was a string believer in the powers of God and saw Him as an absolutely fair and just Creator. The book opens in the year 1943 when Elie's family and others in his Hungarian town of Sighet had not yet heard of concentration camps or Nazi atrocities. A pious Jew man who had been imparting religious knowledge to Elie tells everyone of his experience during a brief journey when all his fellow Jews were brutally killed by Nazi forces. It is not easy for the villagers to trust his stories but eventually Nazi forces enter their village too and this is when the real journey of
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faith or should we say, loss of faith begins.

Elie and his father were captured along with other Jews and are thrown into concentration camps to die to starvation and disease. He is horrified by what he witnesses there, young kids being thrown into open furnaces, men being hanged for no reason at all, and people dying simply of extreme cold and starvation. The life in concentration camp is simply too cruel and terrifying for any man to remain sane or to hold on to his faith. Initially, Elie is confused; he is unable to understand why God was letting this happen. But with passage of time, he starts losing faith in God, the one Jewish symbol he had always believed in because he thought highly of His powers. Elie begins losing faith and also notices how other Jews gradually become disinterested in Jewish prayers that exalt God. His faith in God becomes noticeably weaker when during a prayer he angrily questions:

Why should I bless His name? The Eternal, lord of the Universe, the All-Powerful and Terrible, was silent. What had I to thank Him for? (Wiesel 31)

Over the passage of time, Elie begins questions his own faith and the Jewish God that he had been praying to. While he does believe in the Almighty and doesn't deny his existences, yet he has lost faith in His attributes of justice and fairness. Elie couldn't see anything good happening in the concentration camp and couldn't believe what was he being punished for:

Some talked of God, of his mysterious ways, of the…

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Night is therefore a great book about faith, how man loses and regain it when struck by adversity and tragedy. God is the most important Jewish symbol and to loss faith in Him meant losing faith in religion itself. Elie could justify his loss of faith but luckily he survived the camp and emerged stronger and wiser.


Elie Wiesel, Night, Bantam; Reissue edition March 1, 1982

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